"Big Four" Highlights


Promoting Civility in America

Knights of Columbus launches project to improve political culture

With the hopeful claim, “It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way,” the Knights of Columbus launched a non-partisan campaign for “Civility in America,” urging Americans to sign an online petition that will be sent to candidates and media representatives to express the electorate’s desire for a better political culture.

The project came in response to a Knights of Columbus-Marist poll indicating that 78 percent of Americans are frustrated with the tone of political discourse, and 74 percent think things have gotten worse in recent years.

The Catholic fraternal and charitable Order is also sponsoring a series of full-page national newspaper ads – beginning with the July 24 issue of USA TODAY – to encourage readers to sign the online petition at CivilityinAmerica.org. Facebook users can show support by “liking” the petition at Facebook.com/CivilityinAmerica.

The petition reads:

“We, the undersigned citizens of the United States of America, respectfully request that candidates, the media and other advocates and commentators involved in the public policy arena employ a more civil tone in public discourse on political and social issues, focusing on policies rather than on individual personalities. For our part, we pledge to make these principles our own.”

“The American people want and deserve civility and a conversation on the issues rather than personal attacks,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “In our own lives, all of us have friends with whom we disagree, and we long ago learned how to have civil relationships despite our differences. Since our elected officials work for and represent the American people, this petition is a step forward in making our voice heard and in making clear to our public servants how we would like them to conduct themselves.”

The campaign finds support in a July Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll that shows that nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78 percent) are frustrated with the tone in politics today. The survey also found that:

• Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that campaigns have gotten more negative over the years (74 percent).
• Two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) believe that candidates spend more time attacking their opponents than talking about the issues.
• By a nearly 20 point margin, Americans believe that campaigns are mostly uncivil and disrespectful (56 to 37 percent).
• And nearly two-thirds of Americans say that negative campaigning harms our political process a great deal or a significant amount (64 percent).

The telephone survey of 1,010 adults was conducted from July 9, 2012 through July 11, 2012. It has a margin of error within +/- 3.0 percentage points.